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DOI: 10.31862/2500-2961-2023-13-4-347-365

A new representative of the ichnogenus Megalosauripus (dinosaurs) from the Lower Cretaceous of Northern Caucasus

The Northern Caucasus area is an unique place, which contains numerous outcrops of the Cretaceous deposits of wide stratigraphic range from Valanginian up to Maastrichtian stages. These deposits contain taxonomically various and highly diverse fossils of many organisms, and traces of their life activity as well. The paper deals with a description of a new ichnospecies of the carnivorous dinosaurs attributed to the ichnogenus Megalosauripus, found in the Valanginian deposits (Lower Cretaceous) of the close vicinity of the City of Kislovodsk. Four best-preserved footprints were selected for the present study. These footprints represent a part of the collection of data including a series of field and cameral photo-images, detailed line-tracing drawings of the footprints, measurements of the footprints relative position on the Valanginian depositional / sedimentary surfaces, and the plaster molds taken of/from the footprints. History of study of the dinosaur footprints in Northern Caucasus region is described in detail. The most representative footprint assigned to a new ichnospecies M. caucasicus Naugolnykh et Afonkin, ichnosp. nov. was selected as a holotype. The holotype is a tridactyl footprint with imprints of claw phalanges. The most prominent digit is a middle one (third digit), 18 cm long and 5 cm wide. Second digit is 11 cm long and 3 cm wide. Forth digit is 12 cm long, 2 cm wide. The first digit is weakly visible. The angles between digits are: the angle between second and third digits is 36°, the angle between third and fourth digits is 30°. Full length of the footprint is 19 cm. Maximal width of the footprint is 12 cm. The depth of the footprint is about 1 cm. Two additional footprints attributed to the same ichnospecis are described in detail as well. A comparison of the new ichnospecies Megalosauripus caucasicus Naugolnykh et Afonkin, ichnosp. nov. and the morphologically similar megalosaurid footprints from other regions of the world is given. The footprints described in the present paper are smaller than most of the other representatives of the ichnogenus Megalosauripus. They are different of the similar ichnospecies M. transjuranicus Razzolini et al.,
M. uzbekistanicus Gabunyia et Kurbatov, and the similar footprints of the same morphological type from Morocco and North America in weakly pronounced imprints of the digit phalanges.

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